Voice: Public education, if the protected quit hiding, could be fixed

March 08, 2002

"It's not a money problem. It's a monopoly problem," said U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Scalia during the arguments — over school vouchers and parental choice — being heard in Washington, D.C. The Bush administration and Cleveland, Ohio, public schools are fighting over the future direction of America's public education.

Hewing to the party line, Imperial County's Republican state assemblyman, Jim Battin touts school vouchers as the panacea for underperforming students and teachers, apathetic or intimidated parents and hypocritical administrators involved with public schools in California. Asked how school vouchers would maintain local control and an administration by duly elected school board trustees, Mr. Battin answered, "I don't know."

He doesn't know; and vouchers or no vouchers won't matter if the California Teachers Association has its way in Sacramento by passage of state Assembly bill 2160. CTA's website states, "Assembly bill 2160 … will herald a new era in California's public schools … ‘real classroom teachers — and not school district bureaucrats - will have more power over what and how to teach,' said Wayne Johnson, president of the 300,000-member California Teachers Association."


"This bill takes control of the classroom away from distant bureaucrats and puts more decisions into the hands of the educators who work with the children every day," Johnson said. "By expanding the scope of the state's bargaining law, teachers and their union representatives will be able to negotiate the procedures by which decisions about curriculum, textbooks and teacher training are made — and about how to increase parental involvement. By empowering teachers, you empower public education."

Here on the local level in Imperial Unified, the teachers' union representatives — no doubt instructed at union workshops and meetings to be militating minions for Wayne Johnson — press their case for pay increases, above inflationary adjustments, and attack district parents for standing up for their kids.

In "Voice of the People," Imperial teachers' union crisis committee chair Christina Santos cat-bites Imperial Unified parent Elydia Gonzalez for engaging in "class warfare disguised as constructive criticism," wasp-stings her for "emotional bias against" teachers and dismisses her as "another bitter letter-writer." Santos questions Mrs. Gonzalez' loyalty to her own school children and demands to know, "what is she actually for?"

Ms. Santos, Messrs. Bush, Battin and Johnson are wrong because proactive parents and informed citizens are keys to empowered public education: apathy among parents precludes the abolishment of tenure for teachers — behind which lazy or bad teachers and administrators hide.

School vouchers and Assembly Bill 2160 are twin edges of a well-honed sword that if employed will eviscerate public education and create a Frankenstein monster of chaos whose detritus will be: more bad schools and more Johnnies-who-cannot-read or cipher.


El Centro

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